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Princeton Theological Seminary: Global Theological Commons

For the fourth grant in the Luce Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Initiative, the Foundation’s Directors have awarded $1.5 million to the Princeton Theological Seminary, towards the development of a global, digital, multimedia library of theological resources. Partnering libraries and publishing houses in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the program will increase both the diversity and the accessibility of theological study, sharing “renowned resources freely with the changing church worldwide, and receiving the stimulating scholarship, insights and wisdom of others in equal measure.”

In a fitting celebration of its 75-year history, this grant celebrates the Luce Foundation’s long relationship with the Princeton Theological Seminary. Henry R. Luce’s father was educated at the Princeton Seminary, and his son Henry Luce III served on the Seminary’s Board of Trustees for 35 years. Previous grants have enabled the construction of the Henry Luce III Research Library and the endowment of the Henry Luce III Chair in Philosophy and the Arts.

The Princeton Seminary has already taken a leading role in the creation of digital resources for shared knowledge and learning. The Seminary created its Theological Commons, a free, public digital library of more than 50,000 religious texts, in 2012, and it has partnered with the Internet Archive to become a center for scanning and dispersing academic resources.

With this 75th anniversary grant from the Luce Foundation, the Seminary will be able to expand this program into a Global Theological Commons, assisting institutions across the world in creating similar libraries of their own. It will also develop an international publisher relations program, working with publishers to bring out-of-print but in-copyright books into the Theological Commons. In the process, the Seminary will be pioneering the new field of “theological informatics,” exploring how more advanced digital media can make images, audio recordings, and interactive e-texts a key part of the study of theology.

This program is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of media pioneer Henry R. Luce and with his family’s commitment to the Princeton Theological Seminary. It celebrates both institutions’ shared commitment to “leadership and service, scholarship and communication, and international understanding.”

 75th Anniversary Initiative

This grant was part of a special initiative celebrating the Luce Foundation’s 75th anniversary and honoring the vision of our founder, Henry R. Luce. Over the course of two years, the Foundation awarded a series of seven major grants fostering innovation in our historic areas of interest, including leadership, service, scholarship, communication, and international understanding.

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- M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Seminary